Microbial lung infections are the major cause of morbidity and mortality in the hereditary metabolic disorder cystic fibrosis, yet the molecular mechanisms leading from the mutation of cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) to lung infection are still unclear. Here, we show that ceramide age-dependently accumulates in the respiratory tract of uninfected Cftr-deficient mice owing to an alkalinization of intracellular vesicles in Cftr-deficient cells. This change in pH results in an imbalance between acid sphingomyelinase (Asm) cleavage of sphingomyelin to ceramide and acid ceramidase consumption of ceramide, resulting in the higher levels of ceramide. The accumulation of ceramide causes Cftr-deficient mice to suffer from constitutive age-dependent pulmonary inflammation, death of respiratory epithelial cells, deposits of DNA in bronchi and high susceptibility to severe Pseudomonas aeruginosa infections. Partial genetic deficiency of Asm in Cftr(-/-)Smpd1(+/-) mice or pharmacological treatment of Cftr-deficient mice with the Asm blocker amitriptyline normalizes pulmonary ceramide and prevents all pathological findings, including susceptibility to infection. These data suggest inhibition of Asm as a new treatment strategy for cystic fibrosis.-1 - infection. These data suggest inhibition of Asm as a novel treatment strategy in CF.
Ceramide accumulation mediates inflammation, cell death and infection susceptibility in cystic fibrosis-4 -
The transcriptional repressor Gfi1 is a nuclear zinc-finger protein expressed in T-cell precursors in the thymus and in activated mature T lymphocytes. Previous experiments have shown that Gfi1 is involved in T-cell lymphomagenesis and in the development of T-cell progenitors. Here we show that Gfi1 is also expressed outside the lymphoid system in granulocytes and activated macrophages, cells that mediate innate immunity (that is, non-specific immunity). We have generated Gfi1-deficient mice (Gfi1-/-) and show that these animals are severely neutropenic and accumulate immature monocytic cells in blood and bone marrow. Their myeloid precursor cells are unable to differentiate into granulocytes upon stimulation with granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF) but can develop into mature macrophages. We found that Gfi1-/- macrophages produce enhanced levels of inflammatory cytokines, such as tumor necrosis factor (TNF), interleukin-10 (IL-10) and IL-1beta, when stimulated with bacterial lipopolysaccharide (LPS) and that Gfi1-/- mice succumb to low doses of this endotoxin that are tolerated by wildtype mice. We conclude that Gfi1 influences the differentiation of myeloid precursors into granulocytes or monocytes and acts in limiting the inflammatory immune response.
Wilson disease is caused by accumulation of Cu(2+) in cells, which results in liver cirrhosis and, occasionally, anemia. Here, we show that Cu(2+) triggers hepatocyte apoptosis through activation of acid sphingomyelinase (Asm) and release of ceramide. Genetic deficiency or pharmacological inhibition of Asm prevented Cu(2+)-induced hepatocyte apoptosis and protected rats, genetically prone to develop Wilson disease, from acute hepatocyte death, liver failure and early death. Cu(2+) induced the secretion of activated Asm from leukocytes, leading to ceramide release in and phosphatidylserine exposure on erythrocytes, events also prevented by inhibition of Asm. Phosphatidylserine exposure resulted in immediate clearance of affected erythrocytes from the blood in mice. Accordingly, individuals with Wilson disease showed elevated plasma levels of Asm, and displayed a constitutive increase of ceramide- and phosphatidylserine-positive erythrocytes. Our data suggest a previously unidentified mechanism for liver cirrhosis and anemia in Wilson disease.
A third of patients with paraganglial tumors, pheochromocytoma, and paraganglioma, carry germline mutations in one of the susceptibility genes, RET, VHL, NF1, SDHAF2, SDHA, SDHB, SDHC, SDHD, TMEM127, and MAX. Despite increasing importance, data for long-term prognosis are scarce in pediatric presentations. The European-American-PheochromocytomaParaganglioma-Registry, with a total of 2001 patients with confirmed paraganglial tumors, was the platform for this study. Molecular genetic and phenotypic classification and assessment of gene-specific long-term outcome with second and/or malignant paraganglial tumors and life expectancy were performed in patients diagnosed at !18 years. Of 177 eligible registrants, 80% had mutations, 49% VHL, 15% SDHB, 10% SDHD, 4% NF1, and one patient each in RET, SDHA, and SDHC. A second primary paraganglial tumor developed in
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